This is the continuation and conclusion of my post on Dispensationalism.
4. The fourth period is the Abrahamic Covenant and the Dispensation of Promise.
When God called Abram, the turning point of man experienced a dramatic turning point. God had previously dealt with all humanity in each of the Dispensations. But with Abram, God chose one man and planned to make from him a single nation as the center of His work. Through this single nation, God planned to save the world. People often ask, why did God choose the Jews. The answer may be in the fact the Hebrews were the only mono-theistic people of the nations all around them. That is offered up as just one reason, however, I believe there are others as well. But it is true, all the other peoples worshiped many gods and were poly-theistic.
The promises of the Abrahamic Covenant include:
1. God would make out of Abraham a great nation - a nation that would influence the other nations, a nation that would continue while others disappeared.
2. God would bless this nation with financial and spiritual prosperity -(Genesis 12:2).
3. God would make the name of Abraham universal and enduring.
4. God would bless Abraham - (Galatians 3:13-14).
5. God would bless the nations that bless the seed of Abraham.
6. God would bless all the families of the Earth all through Abraham's seed, the Christ -(Genesis 12:3).
7. God led Abraham to that land -(Genesis 12:1) and then promised to give it to him -(Genesis 12:7). It is therefore called the Promised Land.
The most important aspect of God's covenant to Abraham is its promise. This fourth period, the Dispensation of Promise, tested God's people's willingness and ablity to accept and live in light of the promise of God. They were to live in the Promised Land and trust God for the Promised Seed.
Each Dispensation included a test, and the fourth Dispensation reflects man's inability to live by the Promise of God. The descendants of Abraham refused to live in the Land by faith, so they migrated to Egypt. This Dispensation's final test and failure of God's people (Israel) occurred when God attempted to bring them out of Egypt into the Promised Land. At Kadesh-Barnea, the people refused to trust God and enter the Promised Land. God judged them, and everyone of them who did not accept the Promise of God died in the wilderness. Only those of faith (Joshua and Caleb) and those younger than twenty years of age later were permitted to enter the Promised Land.
5. The Mosaic Covenant and the Dispensation of Law. The fifth Dispensation of Law is linked with the Mosaic Covenant. It was given on Mount Sinai where the Law was given to Moses. The Law demonstrated to each individual that he was a sinner before God. During the previous Dispensations, man was a sinner even when he did not have the knowledge of the Law. The Apostle Paul tells us, "Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression." -(Romans 5:14). That passage also points out that God uses such things as "similtudes", "symbology", "types", "themes" and many other linguistic tools and object lessons to communicate He Word.
The Mosaic Covenant had three parts to it:
1. The commandments expressing the righteous will of God.
2. The judgments expressing the social life of Israel.
3. The ordinances directing the religious life of Israel.
Jesus called all these "The Law" -(Matthew 5:17), and Paul explained that it was a ministry of condemnation -(2 Corinthians 3:7-9). No one was ever saved by keeping the Law - it was simply God's way of testing Israel. The nation's failure to keep the Law ended in judgment, as did all the other Dispensations. Those today that have chose to go back under the Law have been deceived into believing a lie, furthermore, it reflects their ignorance of the Biblical message, since no one was saved by the Law, ever. Paul stated that it was a "schoolmaster" to communicate the hopelessness of trying to live under the Law. Today, many religious groups attempt to get people to believe that things will change if they return to the Law of Moses. This is very common with all the cults, even Jewish believers, in some cases. Salvation comes by ONLY ONE WAY - by the grace of God through faith in the Messiah Christ Jesus! It is Grace + nothing. Anyone that teaches you have to be baptized, be a church member, do good works, perform rituals, tithe, whatever is putting the person under the Mosaic Law which was a failure in itself. There is a real possibility that it nullifies salvation by grace through faith. I have found Biblicl evidence to validate that statement. There is another aspect of the Torah that people fail to know. The Hebrew word for Law is "nomos", however, the meaning of Torah (referred to as the books of the Law) literally, means "teachings".
The Dispensation of Law ended with Jesus Christ. He alone, kept the Law (fulfilled it perfectly) -(Matthew 5:17, and then nailed the Law to the Cross -(Colossians 2:14), and "abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the Law of commandments contained in ordinances" -(Ephesians 2:15).
Finally, just as principles from the previous covenants continued into the subsequent Dispensations, so the principles of the Law continue past the Cross of Jesus Christ. He did not take away the wisdom of the Law, or the "Spirit" of the Law, but rather the penalties of the Law. Legalists insist the keeping of the "letter" of the law at the expense of the "spirit" of the Law. Law-keepers may believe seriously they are in Covenant, however, this Dispensation applied strictly to the Jews alone. My experience over five decades has been that they use so-called Law-keeping as a badge of showing off to others, that they are super-spiritual. We see this with Sabbath-keepers, of all stripes. They are quick to boast and undercut those believers that worship formally on Sunday. I would recommend you go back and read my post "SDA Aberration -4" which addresses this bogus spirituality associated with Sabbath observance. There is only way in dealing with Law-keeprs, or the "Legalists" which most of them are not, truly keepers of the Law, by the things that they continue to do on the Sabbath, and that is to know your Bible. There were more requirements of Sabbatarianism than just worshiping on the Sabbath.
6. The New Covenant is associated with the Dispensation of Grace. The Old Testament looked ahead to the New Covenant, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel, and with the House of Judah" -(Jeremiah 31:31). Note that passage affirms the day when the two houses of Judaism will be reunited. Covenant/Reformed theology does not teach that and, for all intent and purpose, rejects the importance of the Jews. It is also called the Second Covenant, in contrast to the Mosaic Covenant of the Law: "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the Second" -(Hebrews 8:7). The New Covenant is "better" than the Old Covenant:
1. It is unconditional. "I will make [a covenant] with the House of Israel" and "I will be to them a God" -(Hebrews 8:10).
2. God guarantees that men will keep its conditions. "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts" -(Hebrews 8:10).
3. It extends to all, "For all shall know me, from the least to the greatest" -(Hebrews 8:11).
4. It will completely eradicate sin, "There sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" -(Hebrews 8:12).
5. It rests upon the sacrifice of Christ, the better Mediator, and assure eternal blessedness from those that accept it.
Jesus Christ predicted the New Covenant on the night of His death, when He instituted the Lord's Supper. "This is my blood of the New Covenant [Testament] which is shed for many for the remision of sins." -(Matthew 26:28). The results of the New Covenant apply primarily to the Dispensation of Grace/Church Age, but in the same way that the previous Covenants have all had eternal applications to the future Dispensations, the New Covenant provides the benefits of salvation for believers from previous Dispensations.
The Dispensation of Grace does not test legal obedience. Rather, the question is this: What will a person do with Jesus Christ? The believers in this Dispensation must accept Christ Jesus and live by Grace. The Dispensation of Grace will end with the professing Church rejecting Grace and slides into apostasy. The resulting Tribulation is God's judgment that ends the era of Grace. The apostasy began with the Church surrendering to the abortion movement, and the recent cave-in to the sodomite movement that has been adopted by nearly all of the mainline Protestant churches.
7. The Davidic Covenant is associated with the Dispensation of the Kingdom. This Covenant is the least understood today by non-Dispensationalists. God's Covenant with David is unique. An extended gap of time separates God's past revelation of the Covenant to David from its future accomplishments. The Davidic Covenant had immediate implications for Israel, but it was the basis for a future Dispensation known as the Kingdom Age - the Millennium - when David's Son will sit on the throne of Israel and rule from Jerusalem. We are talking here about Revelation 20. 90% of the Christian community dogmatically reject the idea of the Millennial earthly reign of Christ Jesus. Just ask people, do you believe Christ is coming back to rule and reign from Jerusalem?
Previously, God had promised Eve she would have a seed who would be the Redeemer -(Genesis 3:15). God later narrowed the line of Promise to the descendants of Shem -(Genesis 9:26), then the family of Abraham -(Genesis 12:3), and finally to the Tribe of Judah -(Genesis 49:10). Now the focus narrows even more and the Redeemer - the Seed of Promise to come from the descendants of David.
The Davidic Covenant -(Psalm 89:20-37) is conditional and based on the nature of God. God established His Nation through the Abrahamic Covenant. He provided laws for the people of the nation through the Mosaic Covenant, and He established a ruler over them in the Davidic Covenant. The Davidic Covenant has a fourfold Promise found in 2 Samuel 7:13.
1. God will establish David's family line.
2. God will rule over His people through His Son, the Son of David.
3. God will establish His Kingdom.
4. God will recognize David's reign forever.
This Covenant is perpetual and unbreakable: "My covenant will I not break ... once I have sworn by My Holiness that I will not lie unto David" -(Psalm 89:34-35). When Israel disobeyed , God did not abrogate or cancel the Covenant. He only chastised His people for their disobedience. The chastisement came when the Kingdom divided under Rehoaboam. God confirmed the Davidic Covenant by an oath -(Psalm 89), later confirmed it to the Virgin Mary -(Luke 12:31-33), and Peter repeated it on Pentecost -(Acts 2:29-32).
We can know for certainty that God will fulfill this covenant in a future Kingdom. This seventh and last era of time to govern man's life on Earth will follow the apocalyptic judgment at the end of the Church Age. Man will fail to please God even though He is giving man ample opportunity to do so. In this last Dispensation, man will live in a perfect environment, Jesus Christ, Himself, will rule mankind, and God will remove the curse on nature. But even in these ideal circumstances, man will still fail to please God. This explains why God will release Satan from the abyss for a short while.
The "Dispensation of the Fullness of Times" -(Ephesians 1:10) is another name for the future Kingdom, which David's son will rule -(2 Samuel 7:8-17; Zechariah 12:8; Luke 1:31-33). This era will be filled with blessings:
1. Christ Jesus will take control of the Kingdom -(Isaiah 11:3-4) and put an end to anarchy and misrule.
2. God will reward mankind and provide rest -(2 Thessalonians 1:6-7).
3. God will glorify those who have suffered -(Romans 8:17-18).
4. God will save all of Israel -(Romans 11:26), cure her blindness -(Corinthians 3:4), and restore her -(Ezekiel 39:25-29).
5. The time of the Gentiles will cease.
6. God will lift the curse on the creation and nature will be magnified -(Genesis 3:17; Isaiah 11:6-8; 65:20-25; Romans 8:19-21).
Even the last Dispensation of ideal circumstances will end in judgment. The test will be for people to submit to the Son of David, Christ Jesus. He will rule with a rod of iron, which means He will be he absolute Ruler who will guide mankind with justice and equity. But at the end of the 1,000 year reign, a group will gather in rebellion against the King -(Revelation 20:7-9). God will judge them along with Satan -(Revelation 20:10). Then at the
final judgment of the ages (Dispensations), those who rejected God will be cast into the lake of fire along with Satan -(Revelation 20:11-15).
Thus God will have demonstrated that in every age (Dispensation), under every circumstance or test, man could not or would not live according to the principles expressed in the covenants nor keep the requirements of the Dispensations.
Those who live with God throughout eternity will do so by the Grace of God. Man has done absolutely nothing to merit salvation. GRACE is "God's Riches At Christ's Expense." Those who suffer eternal separation will realize that God gave mankind multiple opportunities and different tests through which to demonstrate faith in Him. And in every Dispensation, humanity failed. Therefore, in future ages, no person will be able to say that God was unfair or unmerciful.
The Dispensations enabled us to correctly understand God's prophetic timetable of history. The current era focuses on the Church as the instrument through which God works, not on Israel. Yet for the rest of Daniel's prophecy -(Daniel 9:25-27) look for it to be fulfilled Literally in the same way the initial sixty-nine weeks were fulfilled, the Church must be removed from the Earth. This event is called the Rapture. It could happen at any moment and it will precede the last "seven" years of God's decree for Israel, known as the Tribulation.
Dispensationalism is the only Biblical hermeneutic that provides a coherent, "World View". If you have digested these posts on Dispensationalism, you may have discovered a clearer understanding of many questions that you may have had in the back of your mind. You can see why certain groups of people are so spiteful and hateful of the Dispensational hermeneutic, and anyone that holds to this way of understanding the Bible. It brings out the anger of those that claim they are the true church, or you have to observe the Sabbath, and a host of other things that get in their craw, such as the Pre-Tribulational Rapture!
Blessings from God,